http://bit.ly/gEffS8 is a short but sweet article on leaving your writing for a while and returning to it with fresh eyes and it’s absolutely true.
I’m revisiting novel no. 1 (a lad lit) with a view to converting it into a free ebook. Whilst first novels are notoriously bad, I have the excuse that it was written three and a half years ago (53,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2008 http://nanowrimo.org) and although I’m biased, it’s actually not that bad. Well, there are too many instances of making cups of tea etc. but I really like the story and the majority of the writing and, although it will be a free release, it will represent me so I will work on it until I’m completely happy, then send it to my first reader, Rachel, a Choc Lit submission panelist whose opinion I trust implicitly.
I say to my writing group that I find it easier to critique their work than my own because I’m too close to my writing. I know the meaning and intention behind it. If you leave your writing for long enough (I’d say at least a month) then you’ll have been so engrossed in something else (even if it’s not writing related) to have forgotten every minute detail of your story so that mistakes are more obvious than they would have been if you’d kept going over and over the same story. It did that with novel 4 and it got pretty frustrating to find ‘thought’s instead of ‘though’s in the third or fourth edit and whilst there will always be mistakes (certainly in longer pieces) that an editor or agent will pick up on, reducing the chance of that will make your work appear more professional and hopefully stick in their minds for all the right reasons.